Middle English (1150
In 1066 William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy (part of modern France), invaded and conquered England. The newconquerors (called the Normans) brought with them a kind of French, which became the language of the Royal Court, and theruling and business classes. For aperiod there was a kind of linguisticclass division, where the lower classesspoke English and the upper classesspoke French. In the 14th centuryEnglish became dominant in Britainagain, but with many French wordsadded. This language is called MiddleEnglish. It was the language of thegreat poet Chaucer (c1340-1400), butit would still be difficult for nativeEnglish speakers to understand today.
Early Modern English (1500-1800)
Towards the end of Middle English, a sudden and distinct change inpronunciation (the Great Vowel Shift) started, with vowels beingpronounced shorter and shorter. From the 16th century the Britishhad contact with many
from around the world. This, andthe Renaissance of Classical learning, meant that many new wordsand phrases entered the language. The invention of printing alsomeant that there was now a common language in print. Booksbecame cheaper and more people learned to read. Printing alsobrought standardization to English. Spelling and grammar becamefixed, and the dialect of London, where most publishing houses
An example of Middle English by Chaucer.